At the end of the year, I ran a one-shot with z_bill, Mike Kennedy, and FirstTimeGamer. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to do a proper play report writeup, which is a shame because it was an excellent game (everyone was awesome to be sure, but z_bill's Time Baby was legendary) and by the time I have time to do a writeup I will probably forgot all the fun and juicy details. I would also eventually like to do a whole writeup on Cyclops and my take on him for this one-shot. If z_bill, Mike, or FirstTimeGamer would like to add their comments, I would greatly appreciate it!
Instead of a proper play report, I'll briefly comment on how I felt about the system, include a setting timeline, and my outline for the one-shot (things deviated, as they do, but I think it gives a rough sense of what i was going for). In addition to the powers in the FASERIP core book available on drivethrurpg PWYW, players also used my 100 Weird & Wonderful Superpowers.
So when I first started reading the system, it seemed simple enough, fun, light, and flexible. Considering how popular it is with OSR types, I was surprised how much it seemed to me like a prototype of the later "Narrative" systems, to the point that I wonder if the creators of FATE in particular have cited FASERIP as an inspiration. The most obviously "OSR" part about it, at least to me, besides the fact that it's old, is that by design it encourages randomization for character creation.
I felt fairly prepared for the one shot about a week or two beforehand, but then the game got delayed, and by the time we played I felt a little rusty on the details I had read through, so take my impressions with a grain of salt.
Character creation was simple enough. As with many OSR games, I felt it had a lot of fiddly and unnecessary rules that I mostly ignored- maybe the system would be stronger if I had played into those rules, but it was a bit much to track for a one-shot. Likewise, we mostly ignored the karma system and power stunts, which is effectively like FATE points and XP, so I wonder how that would have changed things.
The universal chart for rolls seemed easy enough at first, but I actually found it surprisingly clumsy and tedious. I think it's one of those things where if we knew the system better and felt more confident it would have been more dynamic, but in-game I felt like rolls were mostly getting in the way, and I generally tried to avoid having the players roll as much as possible. In all fairness, that's not too different from how I feel about most games. Before writing this game off entirely, I'd like to try this system out again as a player, with a GM who knows the system better, just to see how "off" my GMing was, but again at the end of the day we had a great time even if I wasn't super into the system.
Q’Tar Hul: The current Hawkman, a Thanagarian hero, attempts to invade Earth, specifically to attack the Hexus Corporate HQ, but is stopped by a combined effort of Spectrum Corps. and SWORD, and is being held on SWORD’s orbital space prison.
· A delegation of Rannians and Thanagarians are coming to the base for negotiations / to understand what has happened. The party has been brought on to protect the delegates.
Shyra Thell: Admiral of the Thanagarian Sky Navy, the highest Thanagarian military position. Clearly angry at Q’Tar, and by proxy angry at everyone present, but also clearly cares for him.
Tret Orr: Like a cross between Henry Kissinger and Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. A diplomat but looks like he can scrap as well.
· Has a promethium/Nth metal alloy power suit which gives them the Ballistic power (7).
Aleea Strange: Half-human, half-Rannian, the chief diplomat and chief scientist of Rann, also known as “The Living Zeta Beam”. A generally kind and even-keeled person.
Judd D’ahs: Rannian general, the star pupil of Adam Strange’s new Rannian military protocol, like a brother to Aleea. Despite his closeness with Aleea and Adam, is otherwise very xenophobic, especially towards Thanagarians.
· Secretly has the Paradigm Shift power (56) which is how he has reached such success.
· He is the first of a new race of mutant Rannians, an end to the genetic stagnation of the Rannians.
Abigail Brand: A mutant half-human, half-alien with the ability to produce powerful flames around her hands and vocalize a wide range of alien languages beyond what humans are otherwise capable of producing. No-nonsense, but well-meaning.
· Her father is actually Lord Boros of the Dark Matter Thieves.
· The Hexus corporation is a living entity, a living idea, that has merged with the living system formerly known as Mr. Sinister. Ivory Blight, a supervillain and another distributed intelligence, has actually been an agent of Hexus Sinister for most of its supervillain career. It was intentionally caught so that it could spread like a meme virus into space.
· Cyclops allowed himself to be arrested in order to investigate Hexus Sinister, but many of the charges against Cyclops, including illegal paramilitary operations, are true.
· Both Tret Orr and Judd D’ahs are looking to start a war, each trying to assassinate the opposing delegate.
Rumors / things of note around the prison
· Two prisoners locked down in solitary. Bloodshot, the nanomachine supersoldier that merged with the OMAC satellite and the one-man army known as Frank Castle. The other is a complete mystery, with rumors that he’s a martial arts master who has inherited the Iron Fist (actually Saitama aka One Punch Man).
· Practically everything in the prison is Hexus brand, much to the chagrin of both delegate parties, and especially Q’Tar. SWORD needs funding and Helix is trying to associate itself with “space-cowboy chic” as part of a new marketing push.
· There is an urban legend that the prison is haunted by undead, skeletal zombies of alien creatures.
o This is the supervillain Ivory Blight, with the superpower Bone Creep (11).
o They are still physiologically animal, but look and behave more like a plant, like coral. Their main body is a patch of forest of bone-trees centered around a gigantic tree, their original self. However, their consciousness is distributed across all of their offspring, varying in sizes and shapes. Sometimes they inhabit a humanoid bio-feedback suit with a small bone-plant in order to interact effectively with the animal world, but they generally think of themselves as more akin to plants, fungi, and coral.
· Players can investigate one or two locations for free, learning any details or making any decisions they see fit. After that the bone creeps tear through the prison, causing havoc. 1d3 chance that 1) Bloodshot, 2) Saitama, or 3) None escape solitary confinement.
o Bone Creep
o Average Fighting
o Average Agility
o Average Strength
o Decent Endurance
o Bad Reason
o Decent Intuition
o Decent Psyche
o 28 Health
· If players did not help Cyclops, he will have escaped with Tret’s (Strike Hawk) help, and if the players don’t immediately go to the Rannians, Aleea will be assassinated and Strike Hawk will escape. Either way, Cyclops will stay to deal with Ivory Blight.
· If the players did help Cyclops, the Rannians and Thanagarians will fight. If players intervene in the visitor sector immediately they can affect the outcome, otherwise random. Cyclops will tentatively work with the party.
· If Bloodshot escapes, he will begin slaughtering prisoners and Bone Creeps indiscriminately and not work with the party, but not work against them either, so long as they don’t get in his way.
· If Saitama escapes, he will bumble around, fighting mainly to defend himself if necessary, but will work with the party if they ask.
· Cyclops, the military leader of X-Force and one of the leaders of X-Corp, has been arrested.
o This Cyclops is elderly but fit and massively muscular, and still has an intense, militaristic, indoctrinated view towards mutant rights, but has also channeled his leadership skills towards a more mild-mannered charisma.
o He was recently arrested for conspiracy, terrorism, and corporate espionage, but he has been cooperative and claims he was set up by Hexus.
o Despite being a “superhero”, he seems to have become the Kingpin of this prison.
o He will try to convince the party to distract/incapacitate one of the super-guards, a mutant superhero known as Foucault. He won’t explain why, asking the party just to trust him.
o If the party doesn’t work with Cyclops, he will make the same deal with Tret. In such a case, he will attempt to assassinate Judd and Aleea as part of the deal.
· On the way out, the players will see Tret passively observing.
· Foucault is a short, lean man of mixed Russian / East Asian descent. He has the superpower Panopticon (55), which he uses to monitor the prisoners. He is bald with a long beard and wears a simple robe that faintly glows platinum.
o Has a baroquial, uncanny, holy appearance. Two large, nested wheels covered in bright eyes encircle them, and a smaller set of many-eyed, nested wheels swirl overhead like a halo. Can create a wheel-shaped spirit field centered on themselves, nearly football field sized, where they can sense the motives and intentions of those within the field. They can only sense one individual at a time, but can cycle rapidly, and there is no obvious indication that one is being sensed.
· In addition to the solitary cells, there are countless rows of cells with all sorts of dangerous supervillains. Some the party would recognize, others seem out of place, like political/anti-corporate dissidents and alien refugees.
· One villain is in the process of being locked up, but he escapes!
o The villain is Gnasher, with the superpower Tooth Gnasher (88).
o Rows and rows of teeth of any shape or size, the ability to grow dentate-based tusks, fangs, and horns. Each tooth is implanted with an emotionally challenging thought or memory and so long as that tooth is present, the thought or memory remains fresh. The teeth must be violently torn from their socket and can either be used as weapons or projectiles. If the teeth penetrate the bloodstream, the recipient experiences the negative emotions associated with that tooth.
o If the players heard the rumor about skeletons one of the party will remember that Gnasher is known to be partnered with Ivory Blight.
· After the fight, there is a 1d3 chance that 1) Bloodshot’s cell opens and he/it escapes, 2) Saitama’s cell opens but he does not try to run (players will have a moment to talk to him) 3) nothing.
· Saitama has no stats and can take anything out in one-punch
· Of the Thanagarians, Shyra will be busy with various communications organized by her associates. Tret will not be present.
· Of the Rannians, Aleea and Judd will be discussing the Hexus phenomenon on Rann, with Judd taking a very xenophobic stance towards Thanagarians and Humans.
· Q’Tar will talk civilly with the party, but distrusts the humans in general, and will not reveal everything he knows/thinks.
o He has some suspicions about Hexus being an intelligent lifeform but does not know about Hexus Sinister or Ivory Blight.
o He has some suspicions that this prison is at the center of the Hexus conspiracy.
- The beginning of the “Golden Age” of superheroes. While superpowered peoples existed before the 30’s, this is the first time they are in the public eye.
- The first superhero team, the Justice Society of America (JSA), is formed by Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, to fight crime in the depression era.
- The JSA undergoes internal strife, undecided on whether to assist in the war or focus on domestic crime.
- The US government and Allies form the Invaders, consisting of the public super soldier Captain America, his sidekick Bucky Barnes, the Atlantean king Namor, and others.
- With the Invaders oversees, the JSA reforms, with a focus on domestic crime.
- Several of the Invaders were MIA in the latter years of the war or returned to their homelands.
- McCarthy targets the aging JSA, once again leading to the dissolution of the team. Several former JSA members become rogue vigilantes.
- This decade sees a resurgence of superheroes. Some fashion themselves after the original JSA, while others, such as Iron Man, the Hulk, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four, usher in a new era.
- Some of the original JSA and new heroes directly inspired by them form the Justice League of America (JLA), in cooperation with the United States government.
- A new team, the Avengers, sponsored by the entrepreneur and technologist Tony Stark, forms in opposition to the government-sponsored JLA.
- Towards the latter years of the decade, Homo Sapiens Superior, colloquially / pejoratively known as Mutants, rise in number and enter public awareness. A sociocultural panic ensues, and several groups form as a result. The X-Men strive for peace, the Brotherhood of Mutants see themselves as a violent resistance, and the Doom Patrol claim to be apolitical.
- A new major world religion gain traction. The Church of the New Gods, led by the Forever People Foundation, believe in a superhero-like pantheon outside of time as we know it, consisting of two factions from the planet New Genesis and Apokolips, respectively.
- While the JLA and Avengers continue to thrive, there is a rise in street-level, rogue vigilantes in response to the rising crime rate and in opposition to the Vietnam War and any military-industrial or corporate affiliations. Many are dissatisfied with the JLA’s tacit acceptance of the war, and although unaffiliated with the government per se, some believe Tony Stark is profiting from the war and biasing the agenda of the Avengers.
- New teams such as the Knights and Teen Titans form to fight street crime.
- The X-men begin to recruit powerful mutants internationally, significantly boosting their sociopolitical influence.
- Mutant street culture begins to enter the mainstream. Anti-mutant fervor rises in equal measure.
- The X-men split into several sub-factions including the militia known as X-Force and several independent cells of X-men. The philosophy of the Brotherhood of Mutants gains traction, but they repeatedly undermine themselves by committing acts of extreme violence against civilians, and other actions of questionable ethics. The leader of the Doom Patrol is revealed to be a fraud, having leveraged the resources of the group for personal gain, and is effectively parceled out between the various X-men and Brotherhood factions.
- Both the JLA and Avengers undergo internal strife over philosophical differences. This leads to various sub-factions of both organizations located across the US, only loosely affiliated to each other.
- A new branch of the US military called the Justice Battalion targets underprivileged mutants for recruitment (and fast-tracks the children and extended family of elder JSA and JLA members into high-level military positions).
- A new vigilante of Japanese-American descent, All Might, reorganizes many of the JLA fringe groups into a new, unified JLA.
- Certain prominent members of the JLA rejected the Justice Battalion and All Might’s JLA. They build an independent space station known as the Watchtower and defend the Earth independent of any political ties, taking the name Stormwatch.
- The leader of the Brotherhood of Mutants, Magneto, develops a high-tech, artificial island near Madascar, which becomes the first Mutant State. They develop an alliance with the Atlanteans, led by king Arthur Curry (aka Aquaman), the Amazonians of Themyscira led by Queen Hippolyta, the Wakandans led by King T’Challa (aka The Black Panther), the Inhumans of Attilan led by King Boltagon (aka Black Bolt), the Latverians led by Dr. Von Doom, and the Transians led by Dr. Wyndham (aka The High Evolutionary).
- The X-men begin the early stages of corporatization. They reveal their long-standing partnership with the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, franchising as an expensive and elite private school for both humans and mutants. The X-men and the Xavier School fall under the X-Corp corporation and brand.
- American Mutant culture reaches peak international influence, and X-Corp becomes one of the most influential corporations in the world.
- Post-9/11, the US enters war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Genosha. At first it appears that this will spiral into a disastrous World War 3. However, the X-men work with the US government to spread awareness of human rights violations in Genosha, setting the international community against them. Out of desperation, Magneto escalates the conflict. The war ends with a Sentinel assault on Genosha, the greatest singular loss of life since the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Magneto is believed dead but becomes a martyr. “Magneto was right” becomes a popular phrase.
- Likewise, as a result of 9/11, many of the Avengers formally join the US government as the Ultimates.
- The Knights, Avengers opposed to the Ultimates, and other vigilantes become the Defenders, aiming to serve the people in all regards, whether street crime, white collar crime, or the fallout of large-scale super-battles and cosmic threats.
- It is discovered that an alien species known as the Skrull have been spying on humanity for decades and have infiltrated nearly every government and corporation. The peoples of Earth unite against the Skrull, radically altering the geopolitical and economic landscape.
- Norman Osborn, considered a war hero as a result of assassinating the Skrull Queen, becomes the de facto world leader as head of SHIELD. He ushers in an era of xenophobia, isolationism, and corruption.
- X-Corp, Alchemax, Wayne-Powers, Stark-Fujikawa, Hexus, the Wakanda Corporation, and several other trans-national corporations disadvantaged by the Osborn Administration work to undermine him, although their actions are often equally ethically questionable.
- The superhero Enji Todoroki (aka Endeavor) becomes the CEO of Stark-Fujikawa. Under his leadership, Stark-Fujikawa ushers in a new era of economic prosperity for Japan, centered largely on training mutants and other superhumans and leveraging their abilities to radically innovate in the technology sector.
- Racism towards Mutants and other non-humans or superhumans still exists, but is the lowest it’s been since the early 2000’s.
- The nations and corporations of Earth are in open conversation with various inter-galactic powers, including the Nova Corps., Green Latern Corps., Kree, Shi’ar, Thanagarians, and Rannians. Stormwatch and a branch of SHIELD known as SWORD are the two primary vectors of communication with alien cultures.
- The Inhumans construct the first viable lunar colony. The Kree claim to have created the Inhumans, and many believe they will attempt to invade the lunar colony.
- King T’Challa of Wakanda is overthrown in a non-violent coup by his arch-nemesis N’Jadaka, the CEO of the Wakanda Corporation, which divests the nation, turning it into the first Corporate State. The Wakanda Corporation is also the first Earth-based organization to make a direct alliance with an inter-galactic party, joining the Shi’ar empire.
- All Might retires from the JLA and becomes a professor at the U.A. School in Japan, the top superhero grade school in Japan, out-placed only by the original Xavier Institute and the Future Foundation.
- The US, drained by decades of international conflict and dead-ended by the short-sightedness and greed of Osborn, has become little more than a shell for Alchemax, Wayne-Powers, and Hexus. Overall, needs are met, and quality of life is higher than one might expect, but many fear the US is on the verge of being a cyberpunk dystopia.
- Despite no public dealings with alien cultures, the Hexus brand has rapidly gained traction on Rann. This has created political tension between the peoples of Earth, Rann, and the Thanagarians, who have a tense and often hostile relationship with the Rannians.